About our cables
All of our cables are entirely handmade using some of the purest single crystal silver wire produced with the Ohno Continuous Casting process. We offer a wide variety of hi-fi interconnect, phono/tonearm, and speaker cables. These are all built in house using raw materials. This means that we do not use off the reel bulk cables or conductors and we can work on custom designs tailored to the needs of the individual customer. There are no superficial charges for bespoke and special orders. We offer the option to our customers to have the cable they need based on their own specifications. In addition to this we have developed entirely new designs that set performance standards in the hi-end cable industry.
Our cables are professionally built, and each of them is based on a coherent design, so that they can deliver a consistent hi-end performance under all circumstances and deal with the most demanding environments. Building the cables ourselves and supplying them directly to our customers allows us to offer them at very competitive prices that represent the actual cost of materials and the labour required for each cable to be produced. Our pricing is not there to reflect claims about purity, "best performance" and superficial marketing strategies.
Good quality parts and materials are essential but not adequate to guarantee a good performing cable. The design and assembly is what determines that these parts and materials are properly matched and used to their full potential. We constantly develop and test new designs which is one of the advantages of being able to create one-off cables as opposed to using pre-manufactured ones. We aim at describing our cables as clearly as possible providing information and photos that show exactly how each cable is formed rather than hiding under a nice jacket. Of course in reality, this may indicate very little about the actual performance of a cable but it is an initial, clear indication that the price you pay for each of the designs is already justified by the effort and quality of work in producing these cables.
A high end cable is not simply a bundle of wires screened with a copper braid and covered with a PET sleeve. The cable design and its assembly should produce consistent results. Measurements should be taken and values that can guarantee a high end performance should be in place instead of wishful thinking. A cable should be trusted the same way as any component on your signal path.
We research and develop new designs regularly (which accounts for most of our work). Many of such designs have no commercial scope and we do not offer them for sale simply because the cost of their production could not be justified by the potential benefits; at least in our opinion. Here we have selected two distinctive lines of interconnect cables that we believe represent best value for money - the Clio and the Gaia series - each having its own origins and fulfilling different aims. Our cables feature various geometries so that we can obtain different results. The designs have been developed through extensive testing and we are confident that they are at least the best you can find in their price range. Some of them are quite complex and time consuming to produce at such high standards. Even the simplest ones incorporate such details in their construction and make use of all the materials we consider essential in order to produce the desired results.
Our phono and line level interconnect cables are fully shielded. Although screening/shielding is not always necessary (it depends on the presence of EMI and RFI in the user's environment) we strongly advise you to look for a well shielded cable unless you are absolutely confident that you will use it in an interference free environment. We ensure that the methods of shielding and the quality of the shields that we use meet the highest standards. Primary shielding is typically offered by using dense silver plated OFC copper braids that obtain some of the highest possible levels of optical coverage. Some of our designs involve a combination of braided shields and/or other screening methods in order to achieve enhanced protection in very demanding environments.
The most important aspect of a cable is its sonic performance; and this performance depends on the architecture of the cable and how well it matches the interconnected components. We do however, care a lot about our cables being user friendly, durable and having a professional finish. The outer braids, sleeves and finishing details on our cables are not a fancy dress to cover a cheap construction but the final touch to an exceptional design. Despite the use of pure silver and extensive shielding, our cables are flexible yet very durable and have a discreet profile. We do not use long pieces of heatshrink to brand them neither do we dress improperly insulated conductors with a mere outer sleeve. Everything is professionally assembled and finished to offer a user friendly product that will last for a lifetime.
We do what we do because we love it and we try to make a living out of it. This pretty much describes our entire approach on our business. We do not follow a typical business model and we have no intention in expanding (in terms of size). We are happy with the way we work. It allows us to be creative, get a satisfaction out of what we make and keep an honest and personal contact with our customers. We believe in what we create rather than just try to sell it. Often people think that by offering many cable designs, constant upgrades and wide price ranges we try to sell even more and create an artificial need for better and more expensive cables. This is far from the truth. We are committed in creating the best we can and constant research and improvement is part of the entire process. On the other hand our cables are built to meet needs and requirements that are different from one customer to the other. i.e. we know that we can create a great cable for relatively little money but this does not mean that this is the best we can do. So when some of our cables cost hundreds of pounds they are not there to generate extra profit for us but to show that when a certain budget is available we can materialize designs that require a lot more work and involve materials of much higher costs.
The Clio series of cables rose by our desire to create and offer outstanding pure silver cables at very competitive prices. We believe that not only we achieve this but we have also expanded on the commonly found cable architectures, selected and used some of the highest quality materials and created a highly desirable, hype free cable.
The Clio series features cables with solid pure OCC silver conductors. These cables use traditional geometries and represent excellent value for money. Their efficient designs are topped up with high quality materials, much attention to detail and professional finish in order to deliver the best possible performance. Ultra pure single crystal silver conductors, excellent combination of dielectrics, effective shielding, outstanding craftsmanship and high quality connectors make these ultra low capacitance, high performance cables suitable for any hi-end hi-fi system. The cables in the Clio series are characterized by a tight and articulate leading edge, speed and clarity. Their dynamics and extension can only be found in some of the very best cables in the market while their open tonal character is comparable to unshielded designs. Despite their low price these solid silver cables will impress and deliver rare sonic qualities.
The Clio series is based on principles shared among quite a few manufactures of high end cables. Solid pure silver cables in LITZ braids are popular and one can find them from various smaller or larger manufacturers. Numerous DIY recipes have also been developed around the same principle. However, our Clio cables clearly stand out by expanding on the initial principles in several ways:
- The use of our ultra high purity OCC silver make an instant difference from ordinary solid silver cables.
- The high quality EMI and RFI shielding we use on our cables is a rarity among this type of solid silver LItz cables. Proper shielding requires a lot more work and adds up significantly to the costs of a cable. For the shielding to work as intended without having a negative impact each cable design needs to be based on a certain architecture that takes into account all of the parameters. Such a process is a lot more complex than simply braiding Teflon silver wires and inserting them in a copper braid. It requires constant measurements and accuracy on the way each part of the cable is formed and applied.
- These cables do what they do because their designs are justified by consistent values. They are not a braiding show off where more and more cores are added to simply look better and more complex.
- They are professionally finished unlike most of the cables of similar structures. Our focus on durability as well as a commitment in producing user friendly cables has resulted in handmade products that share the precision, elegance and durable design of high end factory made cables.
- Our very reasonable pricing is another factor that makes our cables stand out and reflects an honest account of costs and work required for these cables to be produced.
Over the years we have worked to create something unique; something that will stand out, something that it is here to stay. Our Gaia Litz conductors is the product of this effort. These are the most perfect conductors we have created and their embodiments in our cables have resulted in an unsurpassed sonic performance. The Gaia series of pure OCC silver audio cables has been developed in order to deal with the inherent issues of solid, stranded and traditional Litz wires and set new standards in the performance of audiophile silver cables. All of our cables in the Gaia series use these state of the art Litz conductors with the same high purity OCC silver we use in solid silver cables and solid PTFE insulation on the surface of each of the individual strands inside a single Litz conductor. This Teflon insulation is manually extruded on the surface of the metal to produce a thin, airtight film on the individual strands. These unique Gaia conductors are entirely hand-made and they are not available to purchase in the market. Each conductor is made upon order to match a specific cable design and length.
There is only a handful of companies that produce pure silver Litz wires for audio cables. The production costs of such wires are extremely high while the manufacturing process has many limitations in terms of the materials that can be used and the suitable techniques. We are the only ones to produce entirely handmade pure silver Litz wires (do not confuse with Litz braided cables) and incorporate them in our cable designs. By doing so we have managed to overcome all the limitations imposed by the manufacturing process in mass produced cables and deliver a unique and perfect product on our precise specifications. However, the extensive labour required for such an achievement sets very high production costs. As a consequence the only way these cables can reach the consumer at a reasonable price is by being sold directly by ourselves bypassing all distribution streams that would set an excessive retail price. Furthermore, all the cables of the Gaia Series are of a very limited production that does not exceed the 50-100 pieces of each design per year. The time consuming production of these handmade cables does not allow us to produce them in larger volumes.
Each Gaia cable is made upon order and it is the product of many hours of work accomplished over a period of a few days, so that each stage of its construction is properly assessed and executed. Performance, durability and finish are taken to the highest possible level to achieve a superb conductor and cable.
Our Gaia cables have a unique ability to expand the soundstage in depth rather than simply horizontally & vertically. They are holographic and will deliver more of the 3D elements of the performance. They are characterized by full body and the ability to create better layering and separation between instruments. They carry transparency, speed and dynamics with excellent bass response. Well defined but still natural with rich and believable midrange and upper bass. Although not strictly clinical, they are quite unforgiving cables in the sense that they will not mask detail and likely to expose weaknesses in the system.
They will especially reveal their qualities to those who seek a very well balanced alternative to what most silver cables deliver. Their performance is not simply focused on delivering clarity, detail, speed and dynamics but reveals hidden aspects of music that have to do with the coherence of a recording (I,.e how layering, imaging, ambience and height are projected in the soundstage).
There is a common confusion between LITZ wire and LITZ cable. When referring to a cable the term Litz describes the cable geometry / arrangement of the conductors in a cable (i.e. a cable that consists of solid conductors braided in a Litz form). A LITZ wire refers to the internal structure of a single conductor (i.e. a single conductor consisting of individually insulated strands as opposed to bare stranded or solid conductors).
A well designed Litz wire has all the advantages of both solid and stranded conductors and none of their inherent weaknesses. Our pure silver LITZ conductors are unique and far superior to anything we have worked with or come across in the past in every aspect. Developing them and incorporating them in our designs was the most significant step towards creating something truly new. No other cable we are aware of carries such conductors
Litz wire means that the individual strands that form a single conductor have their own insulation and do not interact with each other, so every strand acts as an independent “signal transmission line”. The insulated strands of the wire are twisted or braided to form such a conductor and then encased in a secondary outer insulation. This design expands the signal transmission surface without increasing the overall size of the conductor. In principle Litz type conductors have the ability to maximize conductivity at high frequencies and prevent skin-effect as it would appear on solid wires of the same gauge (although we should be very clear and specific on how skin effect may have an impact for wires in audio frequencies) as well as eliminate strand cross-conduction of bare stranded wires. Litz wires are also extremely tough and a lot more flexible than solid ones of the equivalent gauge while they are immune to corrosion. Their embodiments have excellent conductor resistance and inductance to cable capacitance ratios. An additional advantage of Litz wires over stranded ones is that they eliminate resonance and distortion produced by the interaction of the bare strands.
Litz wires are an extremely useful structure for a cable designer. When designing a cable we aim at achieving certain balances. There are optimal wire/conductor gauges for given frequencies but also there are optimal strand gauges. Balancing these two is often impossible when using either stranded or solid wires. The most profound example comes from speaker wires where large size of conductors is required in order to minimize the resistance, but the optimal strand size should be very small. In the case of solid cores such a balance would be impossible. In the case of stranded wires, we can have a large gauge conductor consisting of many small strands. However, since the strands are bare and interact with each other they practically act as a solid body. Litz wire is the only structure that allows the combination of larger effective gauges with very low skin depth transmission lines.
Our Litz conductors are formed by helically wound pure OCC silver strands individually insulated in miniature Teflon tubes that have the same internal diameter as the diameter of each stand. The tubes have superior mechanical and electrical characteristics compared to the coatings usually found in Litz formations. We use a variety of methods to further reduce the diameter and thickness of the Teflon tubes manually and ensure a tight fit on the surface of the metal. Although such methods do not involve any temperature changes, melting of the insulation, drying or damage of the perfect silver surface, they are extremely time consuming. Every single strand of the conductor has to be individually treated before we even start the formation of the conductor, let alone the formation of the entire cable. After being insulated and helically wound they are encased in an outer PTFE insulation to form a single conductor.
Forming the conductors is only the beginning in the process of creating our Gaia cables. The conductors are arranged in the proper geometry according to the type of the cable and then re-insulated to achieve the required spacing before they are accordingly shielded and jacketed.
LITZ vs. "LITZ"
Although one would expect a Litz wire to be the perfect conductor for audio applications not all the examples of LITZ wires are successful. Quite the opposite actually. Most of the audio cables with LITZ conductors, despite their very high price, can be very disappointing. (Some of these examples are coming from reputable hi-end audio cable manufacturers). Most well known Litz cables are not neutral. They tend to have their own sound and mask detail. Often the sonic result is well balanced and pleasant, but far from what an audiophile cable is meant to be. Why is it so? Well any wire consisting of strands that have some sort of insulation can be described as LITZ. I.e. Very often the term LITZ wire has been reduced to describe a bundle of enameled/magnet wires. The secret on forming a good conductor for audio purposes is not only in the quality of the metal but also in the characteristics of the insulation used on the individual strands. The type of insulating material, its thickness and the method of application play a very important role in the performance of the conductor. A wrong combination of these parameters IS audible and will lead to loss of detail in the higher frequencies and flatness due to the dielectric effect on the signal.
Almost all of the Litz wires found in audio cables have their strands coated with thin layers of inferior types of varnish, lacquer, enamel etc (just like magnet wires). The dielectric properties of such insulating materials are far inferior to Teflon and will most certainly have a negative sonic impact. With enamel reaching a dielectric constant of 5.1 (compared to the 2.1 of Teflon) and polyurethane reaching even higher levels one can very easily realize how problematic the use of enameled wires is (as well as most types of coated strands in Litz wires). Would you ever varnish a solid wire in order to use it as a conductor in a hi-end cable? Why would one do this to the individual solid strands of a LITZ wire? Convenience, lower cost and complexity to be dealt by the manufacturing process are usually the answers. PTFE is a lot more expensive and difficult to apply compared to most popular dielectrics. It has a very high melting point, meaning it cannot be extruded over the bare strands without causing some surface damage. The thinner the strands the more the damage. On the other hand the application of the insulation in miniature tubular form that does not exceed the 0.3mm diameter is a particularly time-consuming processes and certainly prohibiting for mass production.
The method a coating is applied on each strand is also important. Radical temperature changes as well as the changes the coating material goes through during its application and the drying process are likely to affect the surface of bare silver. The extrusion (when applicable) and curing temperatures are extremely high and can damage damage the conductor surface. In our case, the surface of the strands of our conductors remains unaffected by the insulating process since this does not involve anything more than carefully threading the bare wire in very thin Teflon tubes and then manually reduce its diameter and thickness. Last, traditionally Litz wires use thin coatings. Even multilayer coatings will not achieve the fixed distance (up to 0.26mm) the strands in our conductors have from each other thanks to the wall of the Teflon tubes.
Our Litz conductors effectively deal with all of the above issues. These are not off the reel conductors but entirely handmade. They are so unique that it is unlikely to come across anything similar in terms of quality, design and performance at any price. As you can imagine creating such conductors is a very time consuming process that requires precision at every stage. The simplest of our cables with Litz conductors will typically take over 8 hours of work to be produced while more complex designs may take days. At the same time the materials used for these cables cost many times more than the materials used in cables with solid silver conductors. Well, the benefits of creating such conductors make the whole thing worthwhile. The signal travels on the most perfect path formed by a single crystal of ultra pure silver. Each path remains apart from the other, spaced by thick insulation with minimum dielectric impact on the sound. These Litz conductors are very flexible and so strong that it is almost impossible to break. Inevitably, such cables come at a cost and under any account price is the only negative thing one can find in using such a silver Litz conductor.
The cost of manufactured pure silver Litz conductors in the market is extremely high. At the same time the quality of the existing silver Litz wires is much inferior to what we have managed to create due to the limitations of the manufacturing process as described above. The price of our silver cables with Litz conductors is still many times lower than the price of cables that wouldn't even come close to the complexity of the construction and the level of performance these cables deliver. The least we can claim about these cables is that they will not be matched by any cable at their price range.
Pure OCC Silver:
We do not aim to use the high purity of our silver as our main selling point. It could be a 4N or a 6N silver and we would be happy with it if it could deliver the same results. However, we do emphasize the importance of the continuous casting process and the single crystal nature of our silver wires. Anyone who has worked extensively with pure silver can identify differences on their resistance to corrosion and their mechanical characteristics. Their crystalic structure and grain are also reflected to the sonic characteristics of the metal.
Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) is a process that achieves a single crystallized silver with extremely high levels of purity. Harmonic Technology (i.e. Crystal Silver Phono), Furutech, B.M.C., Oehlbach, Neotech in their NEI 1000 series (i.e NEI-1002) as well as a few other companies are certified cable manufacturers who use both OCC silver and OCC copper on their cables with such high levels of purity. OCC silver is usually offered in purity between 4N and 7N and as is expected it is many times more expensive than the typical 99.99% fine silver produced by the traditional methods of extrusion.
Although higher purity is a straight forward benefit, OCC silver carries a number of other characteristics that make it the best available conductor. Its grain structure, softness and surface finish are equally important advantages when comparing it to fine silver found in the majority of the pure silver audio cables. There is not much point in emphasizing on the number of "nines". The differences beyond the level of 5N are definitely not audible and most of the times not even measurable. On the other hand, there is a big difference between ordinary and high OCC silver mainly due to their grain structure. This is obvious both in listening tests as well as by observing how OCC wire behaves in terms of flexibility and resistance to corrosion. The OCC wire we use will not corrode even if it is exposed un-coated for years. This is hardly the case with typical pure silver wire which will show the first signs of corrosion within a few of days of exposure.
The OCC process enables an extrusion which results to a very long single crystal silver wire. Most silver wires/conductors consist of very small silver crystals connected to each other. 1 meter of a typical silver wire will contain approximately 100 connections. In addition to affecting the free signal flow, these connections are also sensitive to corrosion and aging, which may cause gradual degradation of sound quality. This is essentially different from the OCC wires; they are formed by a single piece of crystal so that there is no more internal connection impedance .
We purchase all the OCC silver we use bare and we process it ourselves to create the conductors for our cables. So, depending on the design we want we either simply insulate the silver wire and use it as solid conductors (single cores) in various cable embodiments or manually process it to create multiple formations and achieve certain stranded and Litz wires/conductors. Using the bare metal to create the wires we need, we can ensure that the best materials, methods and techniques are adopted in order to achieve the best possible result. There are no limitations and compromises and some of our conductor formations are truly unique in the entire cable industry and achieve a sonic performance unsurpassed by the most highly acclaimed audio cables. On the other hand we can produce such specialized conductors in very small quantities without the need to add high investment costs and commissions to third parties on our cable prices.
Using pure OCC silver is an excellent starting point.(and unfortunately, the material alone often tends to be the main selling point for hi-end audio cables); however, the way the metal is processed to form a conductor and the way the conductors are embodied in certain cable geometries is what makes some cables stand out.
Despite the romantic approach on the “sound of metal” it is wise to keep in mind that a wire has no sound on its own. Sound travels on a system of wires (cable) and it is determined by a very complex architecture which we tend to oversimplify in order to be widely understood. The major electrical parameters that define to a large extend the sonic presentation of a cable derive from the relationship of such wires.
From the moment we introduced our hand made cables, the finish was never a simple task mainly used for cosmetic reasons (or to compensate an inadequate cable construction). Over the years we have continuously worked to improve all aspects of the way our cables are finished and a large part of our ongoing research is dedicated in this area. The insulation (dielectrics) used outside the cable’s screen should meet different priorities than the ones used underneath the shield. (If the cables were unshielded the requirements would be very different). Our cable jackets have evolved from our initial PVC sleeves to very flexible and durable compounds each designed and selected for specific cable assemblies. Some of our cables even combine more than one of these compounds in order to achieve the desired results at different sections of the cable (just like in the case of some of our tonearm cables). These jackets are professionally applied on the cable assembly to achieve a tight fit and accurate dimensions.
The outer braided sleeves are also an important consideration and we had to experiment a lot before choosing our current options. The braids we use are very soft multi-fillamets with outstanding physical characteristics. Despite their fine fabric texture they are very tough, and will not fray. Unlike braids made of natural fibers, our braids do not absorb moisture or face aging issues while they have excellent vibration absorbency qualities. Unlike the typical PET and Nylon sleeves often used on audio cables, these braids do not compromise the mechanical characteristics of the cable. On some of our tonearm cable designs where bulk is to be avoided we prefer to use Viablue€¯ braids. These are a combination of monofilament PET and expanding fabric fillers. Our cables have a complete stand-alone€¯ finish even if the outer braids are not used. So customers who wish to order their cables without an outer braid are more than welcome to do so. The cables are already more than adequately protected. The main purpose of the braid (other than the cosmetic) is its ability to act as an antivibration/anti-shock protection layer. The need for it however, depends on the way your system is set up. The impact of vibrations is, most of the times, negligible. It can however be evident on cables that carry low level signals (i.e. phono cables) when laid on not properly isolated surfaces.
Under the surface:
All of our cables are shielded (unless an unshielded bespoke design is requested). Our shield(s) are tightly encased in a layer of PTFE. The shielding on our cables is offered by high conductivity OFC copper braids with pure silver plating. Our latest braided shields feature 98% optical coverage and are highly flexible thanks to the use of multiple, very fine strands. Their density and skin depth exceed by far the standards of the audio industry and even our single shield designs are more effective against EMI and RFI than most of double and triple shielded audio cables we have come across.
For any further information on our cables please feel free to send us an email at email@example.com
Yannis Tome Audio Cables, 36 Dinas Terrace, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1BT, U.K